Scott MacIntosh is living his dream one bagpipe tune at time.
The 19-year-old Stellarton native is currently training with the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa where he will work for three months with the pipes and drums division.
“I have been hoping for this for a couple of years now,” he said. “I am definitely glad to be here. It is definitely a high point.”
A former student of Northumberland Regional High School, MacIntosh is a member of the Nova Scotia Highlanders and recently finished his basic training in June when he received a call about joining the guard. He had just 12 hours off between graduating basic training and leaving for Ottawa.
He auditioned for the guard in the fall of 2017 in front of the band’s pipe major and a recording was taken back to Ottawa for review, but he said it was worth the wait to get the job.
The past few weeks of his training with the band have consisted of practising the music, learning the different aspects of parade and how to care for their uniforms.
“We have to memorize lots of music, but it definitely is coming along. It is a big learning curve.”
Learning the drills are also a challenge, he said, but there are strict orders that when they are on parade or performing at ceremonies, it’s always eyes front at all times.
“We all just watch out for each other,” he said. “They are a good group of people and very professional.”
Performance opportunities with the guard will include daily changing of the guard ceremony on Parliament Hill, ceremonies for state visits, Rideau Hall, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other events both national and international.
The guard is comprised of trained soldiers from both the regular and reserve forces, including members from the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy.
MacIntosh has played with the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo Pipes and Drums from 2012-2017 (since the time he was 13) and was the pipe major of the Nova Scotia Cadet Pipes and Drums. Last year, at the Tattoo, he played with the 12 Wing RCAF band as a volunteer. He spent his summers at cadet camp teaching pipes and drums and last summer he worked at the Gaelic College as their duty piper.
“I started piping at about seven years old,” he said. “I believe seeing my mother sparked that interest. She is a piper and we have a couple of other pipers in the family.”
Training ends and performances begin on June 24 so he is unsure of his schedule yet. He does expect to get some leave throughout the three months and when he returns home he will be making a trip to Cape Breton to visit his grandfather who also plays the pipes.
MacIntosh said his position with the Nova Scotia Highlanders will be as a piper and he is ready to serve at any performance he is needed. He will need to reapply year after year to the Ceremonial Guard if he is interested in returning, but the hard work he put in this year certainly improves this chances of getting selected again.